Health and Work Service – Spring 2015

4 August 2014

Since 6 April 2014, Statutory Sick Pay paid to employees has not been recoverable by businesses. Recently the government told us that it plans to use the money saved to fund the Health and Work Service (HWS) which will commence in spring 2015 after a trial later this year.

The aim is for the HWS to provide assessments of employees who have been absent for more than four weeks (or are likely to be) and to create a ‘Return to Work’ plan within an agreed time limit. The route to the HWS will be via a GP referral – this will happen by default after 4 weeks’ sickness absence – although it needs to be agreed by the employee. The Return to Work plan (which may include recommendations to speed up the employee’s return) is shared with the employee and employer.

The HWS will be able to recommend services that could aid an employee’s return to work and an employer would be able to fund these with a tax exemption on the ‘benefit in kind’ of up to £500 per employee per year.

The second aspect of the HWS will be to provide “independent and objective” advice (online or by telephone) to employers, employees and GPs on (i) the issues that may be preventing a sustained return to work, and/or (ii) how to prevent sickness absence.

Employers have been advised that the HWS will not replace any current occupational health arrangements they have in place and the aim is for the HWS to work in parallel with any private scheme.